No ROTC next year unless PRRD certifies bill urgent

By Jose Cielito Reganit

February 7, 2019, 7:37 pm

MANILA -- There will be no Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) next school year unless President Rodrigo Duterte certifies as urgent the bill proposing to revive the military training program for senior high school students, House Majority Leader Fredenil Castro said Thursday.

House Bill 8961, which seeks to revive the mandatory ROTC training, was approved on second reading on Wednesday.

However, Castro pointed out that House rules require that bills passed on second reading can only be presented for third reading approval after three days.

The three-day rule can only be waived if the bill is certified as urgent by the President.

“It has not been certified urgent by President Duterte, thus, it will be treated as an ordinary measure,” the Capiz lawmaker said.

Since Congress is set to go on break on Friday for the campaign, Castro said that without the certification, the House can only resume processing the bill on final reading when session resumes in May after the mid-term elections.

However, in the event that Duterte certifies the bill as an urgent, he noted that the measure may be passed before the 17th Congress adjourns.

“The Senate will be expected to act on it before the sine die adjournment in June. If not, then there will be no ROTC training for students next school year," Castro said.

Castro made the statements after House leaders were left smarting from accusations of railroading HB 8961 following the decision to vote on the bill on second reading Wednesday night.

Makabayan bloc lawmakers were complaining that the period of interpellation and debate was cut short to pave the way for the voting, barring them from raising some “serious concerns and questions.”

HB 8961 seeks to amend for the purpose Republic Act 7077 or the Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act.

Under the proposed measure, ROTC training would apply to “all students in Grades 11 and 12 in all senior high schools in public and private educational institutions.”

The bill also states that ROTC training shall be a requirement for graduation.

As provided, the following students may be exempted: those who are physically or psychologically unfit; those who have undergone or are undergoing similar military training; those who are chosen by their school to serve as the school’s varsity players in sports competition; and those who may be exempted from training for valid reasons as approved by the Department of National Defense, upon recommendation by an educational institution where the concerned student is enrolled.

The proposed measure also strictly prohibits the use of ROTC training for “political” objective and for teaching and instilling a particular political ideology on students.

HB 8961 also specifically bans hazing and other forms of physical or mental abuse. (PNA)